Back by popular demand, we have more frugal real food meal plans!  This time instead of just one week’s worth, we have an entire four weeks!  Yes, you read that right.  Four whole weeks of frugal family friendly delicious meals.  My hope is to provide you these every single month at the beginning of the month to help as many people as possible eat well all month without breaking the bank.  This month I am getting a late start since my mom and I were on vacation the first week of September.  I apologize for my lateness, but I hope you still find this plan helpful.

In my region (Midwest) with pricing from a regular grocery store, the total cost for all of these meals for a family of four is approximately $277 for the month.  This does not include kitchen staples like dried spices, salt, olive oil, flour, etc.  With the added pantry staples, if you did not have any of them, it would add about $50-$60 to the total.

If you live in an area with a higher cost of living, your totals may be higher than mine, but this meal plan is still a very frugal meal plan full of healthy real food (no cans or boxes), and will still slice your food budget drastically. Food is one of the biggest expenses of every household, so by cutting down the amount we spend on it we can free up more money for other things. This is particularly important if you have bad credit, as you may struggle to get a loan if you ever need one, although can help you to figure how to increase your chances. Either way, it’s always good to save, and to cut down on your spending where possible.

A note on food sensitivities and allergies.  It is impossible for me to write a plan that suits everyone’s dietary needs, but it would be fairly easy to adapt to gluten free for example.  Substitute gluten free pasta and gluten free flour for the regular wheat flour listed, or use spiraled vegetable noodles.  Please feel free to adapt as needed.  Of course, it might add a bit more to your costs, so be mindful of that when making your budget.

These meal plans are meant to work together so that you are using multiple items for multiple meals and also utilizing leftovers.  You will see batch cooking and large cuts of meat stretched for several meals.  A typical method that I use is to cook a large amount of protein (whole chicken, large pork roast, or batch beans) to use for multiple meals like quesadillas, salads, casseroles, or soups.  This is a great way to reduce waste and re-purpose leftovers so that they find new tasty life. Below you will find the plan and links to recipes.  

Extra Convenience 

If you would like a consistent and convenient monthly meal planning service including printable recipes, prep notes, shopping lists, money saving tips, frugal breakfast and lunch ideas, tips for picky eaters, and more, I designed my Healthy Budget Meal Plans just for you! Every month, a new healthy yet budget-friendly meal plan similar to the one below is made available for you to download.  It’s my way to be your helping hand in the kitchen and give you a break! The money you save and the time you get back will pay for the subscription in no time!


September Real Food Frugal Meal Plan

Breakfast options:
peanut butter and toast, apples, or bananas
French toast
banana bread (use regular flour if needed)
breakfast burritos using leftover tortillas

Lunch and snack options:
leftovers (always #1 option)
peanut butter and banana sandwiches
grilled cheese sandwiches
carrot sticks
celery sticks
banana muffins
cheese slices
oat balls

Homemade items to make:
salad dressing:  2 parts olive oil, 1 part vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper, spices to taste

Dinner Plan

Week 1:
slow cooker chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, Brussels sprouts

tomato soup (use milk instead of cream) and grilled cheese

mashed potato cakes (add bacon), fruit, sautéed spinach (reserve a portion for stuffed shells)

chicken stir fry (1.5 cup leftover chicken, broccoli, onions, carrots) and rice

spinach stuffed shells, roasted broccoli

pizza, salad

chicken pot pie, salad

Week 2:

pork roast (place in slow cooker, season with salt, pepper and garlic and cook on low for 7-8 hours), buttered peas, roasted potato wedges

shredded pork sandwiches with leftover pork, sweet potato fries

quiche (sub milk for cream), buttered carrots

Mexican pork soup

spaghetti (buy 1 lb but only use 1/2 lb and save the other half for taco mac and cheese next week), salad

pinto beans, corn bread (omit sugar, sub milk for buttermilk), greens

bean burritos (leftover beans mashed, cheese, tortillas), Spanish rice

Week 3:

oven fried chicken legs (6 chicken legs dredged in flour seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic powder.  Bake at 450 for 45 minutes, flipping once), sauteed cabbage, corn

salmon patties, macaroni and cheese, green beans

taco mac and cheese (leftover mac and cheese, taco seasoning to taste, 1/2 lb ground beef), fruit, peas

chicken piccata (use two chicken breasts sliced in half to make cutlets and omit capers), green beans

cabbage casserole, buttered carrots


leftovers or breakfast

Week 4:
black bean and corn quesadillas (cook 1 lb. black beans.  Use 1.5 cups for recipe and a couple of cups for taco salads later in week.  Mix together black beans, sautéed onions, 3 T. salsa, 1 cup corn, salt,1.5 cup shredded cheese.  Use as filling in quesadillas.), sliced avocado

tuna noodle casserole (omit panko and parmesan cheese.  Top with cheddar.)

black bean taco salad (use leftover black beans and top lettuce salads with black beans, salsa, sour cream, peppers, and cheese.)

cauliflower sauce pasta

omelets with peppers, bacon, fruit

BLTS, oven fries

leftovers, clean out the fridge, breakfast for dinner


A few more notes on food costs. I firmly believe in grace when it comes to nourishing ourselves. We can only do what we can do. Buy the best quality of food you can afford. If you can’t afford the highest quality of everything, you just can’t. Bellies still need to be fed regardless. Consider frozen vegetables if they are less expensive than fresh. Once you have trimmed down all of those options and if you still can’t afford that amount, try checking out local food pantries and food banks. Churches/religious organizations and through your city are good places to look for those options. Dry goods like oats, beans, flour, pasta, canned tomatoes, and peanut butter are items they might typically carry. Some even offer meat and produce. Also check out discount grocers, local food co-ops, CSAs, or food ministry programs for possible cheaper options than your local grocery store. I would also encourage everyone to grow something of your own. Whether it’s in pots, a windowsill, or a backyard, anything you can grow yourself will be money saved off of your grocery bill, even if you’re just growing salad greens and herbs.